Energy think tank, African Centre for Energy Police (ACEP), has said the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) must start naming and shaming Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) that cheat customers.
ACEP’s recommendation follows recent revelations that over 50 OMCs were fined by the Ghana Standards Authority for cheating customers at the pump.
In its Radar, ACEP said in order to discourage such cheating, “Government should take immediate steps to resource the GSA to perform its function of protecting consumers, in line with chapter 2 (12)b of the NPP manifesto” while the “GSA should review its sanctions to make it more deterrent for OMCs to abuse set standards. This should include eventual exposure of individual service stations found to have violated service standards.”
“Going forward, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) should publicly name and shame brands whose franchises breach the industry’s service codes. This will incentivise franchisors and franchisees in the OMC business to internalise the consumer risks arising from their negligent and fraudulent operations.
“The GSA should undertake regular inspections (preferably on a monthly basis) at the pumps rather than the six-monthly exercise. This will increase compliance with industry standards among the OMCs and improve protection for consumers,” ACEP proposed.
The think tank said the recent announcement by the GSA that some OMCs have violated ethics and standards, and resorted to cheating consumers at the pump, generated evidence to confirm the fears of many consumers of petroleum products.
This, ACEP said, also highlighted the need for the Standards entity to up its game in the protection of consumers.
ACEP warned at the beginning of the deregulated regime that strong regulations and standards monitoring was critical to ensure healthy competition that does not compromise the safety, value and quality of petroleum products on the market for unsuspecting consumers.
It said Ghanaians deserve stronger commitment from the GSA that products on the market meet approved standards at all times.
“This brings to focus the demand by the public for harsher punishment for culpable oil marketers.”
ACEP said it “recognises that today, the GSA lacks the requisite technical sophistication to protect the consumer. The laboratory of the Authority needs the government’s urgent attention to enable it deliver on its mandate as far as the oil and gas sector is concerned. For some time now Tema Oil Refinery’s (TOR) laboratory has become the standard bearer of the downstream oil and gas industry. This defeats the essence of separating business from monitoring of standards.”
“The GSA has been a credible institution in the sub-region, providing mentorship and testing of a wide range of products for surrounding countries. This credibility is eroding overtime with obsolete equipment and weak staff strength. This is what has engineered the boldness of some OMCs to cheat consumers. Those OMCs know that GSA conducts biannual checks which in the face of the raging competition from the deregulation expose consumers to unethical behaviour,” ACEP added.